To the mothers who called me superwoman

Friday, July 6th, 2018 at 8:08 am

You saw me juggling my four little ones at the library and you were in awe. “I could never do it,” you said. “You’re superwoman.” And when I acted embarrassed, you doubled down. “No, really.”

I’m pretty sure that you intended it as encouragement. You see how obviously hard parenting lots of littles is and you’re trying to tell me I’m doing great. (At least, I hope that’s what you’re saying.)

But to call me superwoman implies that somehow I have innate, superhuman powers that enable me to live with the circus that is our little family.

I don’t.

Far from it.

When I had one child, newly home from the NICU who screamed and screamed and screamed, that ear-splitting Nazgul scream many times larger than her body…I could never do it. When she only slept lying on top of me but never relaxed into my arms. When the sleepless nights stretched month after month throughout the whole first year…I could never do it.

Yet somehow I did, by the grace of God.

And then I had two children. Another infant fresh from the NICU, this time with a toddler as well. They tag-teamed sleeping, except when neither would sleep. I learned the definition of touched out…I could never do it. Now that I had a toddler, I couldn’t keep the infant away from colds. So we got one after another after another, stretching my body to what was surely its limit with lack of sleep…I could never do it.

Yet somehow I did, by the grace of God.

And then I had a third child and my pelvic floor collapsed. The prolapse came with unrelenting pain when I sat, stood, or lifted – tasks a mother of three cannot avoid. Therapy was long and hard and took time I didn’t have….I could never do it.

Yet somehow I did, by the grace of God.

And then child number 4 arrived with a schedule to make home-loving me flinch. And my grandpa died so we took an emergency trip to Nebraska. And then the kids got sick. And then… And then… And then… I could never do it.

But somehow I am, by the grace of God.

You see, I don’t have any innate special abilities that enable me to do this task you think you could never do. In reality, I’ve cried out in desperation with every stage. “Lord, I can’t do this.”

But this, at each stage, is the task God set before me. Refusing to do the task is not an option. My only hope is to trust God.

And that, I think is what you miss.

Unbelieving woman, you think I’m superwoman because you recognize this task requires superhuman strength. It definitely does. But that strength could never come from me.

Sister-in-Christ, you may think I’m superwoman because you are terrified that God might call you to such a task – and you want to believe that only the specially gifted or the especially patient (let me tell you what, that’s NOT me) can handle such a task. But God gives grace for the tasks he gives during the task, not before.

Sister, this task of mothering, of fostering, is not for superwomen. It’s for women who could never do it, but somehow do, only by the grace of God.


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